The Game of Life

In the previous post we explored the power of curiosity in neutralizing the fear-fueled, judgmental, discouraging, self-sabotaging and downright cruel voice in our heads. Here’s a brief recap before diving into today’s real life example of curiosity in action.

Fear festers in dark and isolation. The moment you expose fear to examination in the light, you begin to dissipate its power. Nowhere is this more true than when fear shows up as its relentless ugly cousin, judging.

When I talk about judging or judgment, I’m not referring to having good or bad discernment. I’m talking about judging yourself, other people, and situations in dualistic terms such as good or bad, right or wrong, okay or not okay. When we judge things by such simplistic, restrictive polarities, we limit our options, get stuck, and block ourselves from the highest good. When we can neutralize the judge, we get unstuck, expand our possibilities, and increase our ability to grow and move forward.

Judging is a prison of our own making. It is downright miraculous how even a small change in your perception can dramatically expand your perspective. To illustrate, here’s one of countless examples from my own life.

Judging is a prison of our own making

However unconscious the process may feel at the time, I am manifesting the world I choose to see. This is the reason the game of golf can be perceived as any or all of the following, depending on your lenses:

  1. a delightful afternoon immersed in nature,
  2. an exhilarating and rewarding competitive event,
  3. a fun way to exercise with friends, and/or
  4. an endless day of humiliation and torture.

Let’s look at my own experience with golf to access this insight more deeply. When we lived on the East Coast, my husband and I owned a vacation home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When my son, Matt, was eleven years old, we enrolled him in kids’ camp to help him enjoy his time there even more by spending it being active outdoors with his peers. One weekend in August, he signed up for a daylong sports camp that provided tennis instruction in the morning and golf in the afternoon. He returned home at the end of the day utterly smitten with golf.

We were so thrilled by Matt’s enthusiasm that we enrolled in a family golf clinic so the three of us could learn and play together. We were all beginners, out there to have fun and enjoy the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We passed many a delightful afternoon playing nine holes. With a tee time late in the day and no one behind us on the course, we could take our time, observing the privilege of unlimited mulligans (do-overs) and stopping to harvest lost golf balls in the woods. Advancing the little white ball down the fairway to the little white cup was always secondary to having a good time.

Until I switched to a consulting firm where golf was not a hobby but a responsibility. One of the benefits—nay, expectations—of being a partner in this firm was that I would play golf with my colleagues and clients. In fact, I would be expected to woo prospective clients on the golf course. To do that, I was expected to be a moderately good golfer, not an embarrassment to my firm and myself.

Gone were the leisurely afternoons on my beloved Blue Ridge golf course. Now my games with family became practice for the performance my partners expected me to deliver. While swearing was not the norm for me, now when I missed the first two shots off the tee, I swore. Now when I hit a shot into a sand trap, I threw my club down the fairway while swearing. When this happened, I’d explain to my companions that my father had been in the merchant marines. They’d say, “Did he swear a lot?” “No,” I’d reply, “evidently it skipped a generation.”

Because children don’t do what we say but rather do what they see us do, it’s unsurprising that, in short order, my eleven-year-old was also throwing his clubs and swearing like a sailor. That’s when I finally got a grip. Matt and I agreed that when either of us behaved badly on the course, we had to take a time-out together in the golf cart until both of us had returned to civility. As a result, Matt and I went through a period where we spent more time in the golf cart than on the course. This may have been just as well, because we were living proof that anger is not necessarily a performance enhancer.

One day, weary of swearing, throwing clubs, and spending time in the cart, the two of us sat there, arms crossed, scowling. After a few minutes of reflection, I said, “Babe, this has got to stop. Neither of us is having any fun anymore. I think I’ve figured out my problem. I’m imagining the potentially angry, ridiculing voices of my partners in my head, and I can’t relax and have fun when I’ve put them in there to beat me up. What’s going on in your head?” He looked at me with all the disgust of a kid who believes his parent has gone ’round the bend and said, “I have no idea. I don’t even know your new partners!”

Here is the essence of what I have learned from over sixty years on this earth. The nugget, the kernel, the gem. The only hope for finding peace in this life—not just comfort but deep abiding peace—is to be insatiably, fearlessly curious about myself.

Be Curious

Not just the attractive ways I show up—my kindness, compassion, wisdom, generosity, and humor. It is important for me to acknowledge those things, but it is not enough. I need to be endlessly inquisitive about all of it, especially the unattractive habits—my insensitivity, impatience, obsession, bitterness, anger, anxiety, and despair. I have grown the most and found deep abiding peace only by embracing the ugly parts as well: appalling thoughts, speech, and behavior. It all matters and must be considered in the mix—the good, the bad, the pretty, and the ugly. All of it acknowledged with courage, compassion, and love. This concoction of disparate and dissonant motivations and behaviors is what it means to be human.

We are all capable of the full range of human motivations and behaviors; none of us is exempt. Refusing to see any part of it, lulling myself into oblivion by clinging to an incomplete, distorted Polly Perfect self-image always leads to my undoing. The greater and deeper the denial, the longer and harder the fall because that which is denied will wreak havoc. Maybe not today or tomorrow. But the longer I look without seeing and hear without listening, the more I stand to lose.

The great irony is that I’m the only person fooled when I deny the full truth of how I show up. I broadcast it through what I say and when I am silent. Through the actions I take and the times I fail to act. Through what I cherish and what I reject. Through what I long for and what I fear. I am the only one kept in the dark by living a life of denial about myself.

One of the greatest gifts I can give anyone is having the honesty and courage to see and share myself fully so that we both might benefit from our shared insight, compassion, and good humor—failures, resilience, victories. We are here to help each other grow by sharing without reservation the only thing we have to give—our authentic selves.

Authenticity is Your Greatest Gift

The only person controlling your life is you! Choose your energy and change your life. If you want to keep making yourself miserable and continue contaminating the energy of every situation you encounter, stop reading and keep doing what you’re doing. But if you have had enough, if you are ready to stop the insanity, keep reading. You are going to love what happens when you learn to embrace the next aspect of love in a new two-part series beginning next month: COMPASSION. 

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2018 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.


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“Deborah’s book, ‘Choose Your Energy: Change our Life!,’ could benefit anyone for any reason. She is so honest in her own personal struggle and journey over many years, it is most inspiring and touching to see the person she has become. If we could all read this book and benefit from her experiences, it would be a better world! Her principles and approaches that are so eloquently documented in this book, have benefited me during our coaching sessions over the last six months. She has shared all the tools and techniques necessary to have a fulfilling life based on love of yourself FIRST.” Marla Ofstad


“Deborah’s message is passionate, simple and consistent throughout the book, guiding you to find your own voice and path toward being present in all aspects of your life. This is the book I pick up time and again to center my thinking and my life.” Audrey Smith, Executive Director, Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg, Virginia 


“I have known Deborah Jane Wells for many years and am witness to the amazing transformation she describes in her book ‘Choose Your Energy:Change Your Life!’ In it, she has translated the skills she honed as a world-renowned consultant and coach into practical strategies, tools and techniques the reader can readily use in their own transformation. The examples she describes–from her own life and the lives of her clients–show how this system plays out in real life and helps each reader apply these tools in their own life. This book also provides a structure you can use to apply these concepts and a ready reference when you need reminders. It is definitely worth having.” Vicki L. Dungan, Management Consultant and Real Estate Investor


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“The work I did with Deborah continues to change my life. While I have learned many valuable lessons from her, the greatest was the deep insight that is available to me when I listen to and learn from my own inner wisdom. Her intuition, discernment and encouragement have taught me to trust my own intuition—creating new paths and possibilities for my life. One of Deborah’s great gifts is helping others respect and connect with their inner guidance and through that connection, to form a deeper, more meaningful bond with the collective wisdom and energy of all.” Ryan

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About djwlifecoach

I am retired from 40+ years of helping individuals and teams build lives and organizations they love. One of the great joys of my retirement from professional practice is having greater bandwidth to donate my professional and creative talents to support and promote animal and social welfare charities. During my 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, I served as a senior partner in four of the world’s largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. My recovery from burnout led to finding my purpose guiding others on their journeys. As a board-certified coach, author, consultant, radio host, Reiki Master and EFT/tapping practitioner, I share hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. 111419 DJW Sid CH Pet Corner Photo ShootI help clients achieve rapid, extraordinary, sustainable results by connecting who they are with what they do, a connection often lost through stress and the sheer busy-ness of daily life. Courageous self-awareness and unconditional self-love lead to honest choices based on priorities that nurture you and those around you on a journey to wholeness. Decades in coaching, consulting, change management, organization development, human resources and mixed media artistic expression honed my business sense, professionalism, creativity, intuition, leadership and communication skills. The result? Practical tools that help you become more insightful, creative, committed, productive and fulfilled. Even the most dedicated and hard-working individuals can shift from frustration to a sense of futility when their values, passion, work, and lives become disconnected. One of the problems with not taking care of our health is that the effects of ignoring it are often slow to show up. We continue to juggle family responsibilities, work and finances until we lose ourselves, waking up one day 50 pounds heavier in body and soul—no good to ourselves or anyone else. I love working with people who are ready to take life-changing action to make their dreams a reality. At each moment, you have inside you all the wisdom you seek to choose your life and your way of showing up. Limiting thoughts, beliefs and feelings can block you from moving forward. An absence of love and concern for yourself can result in negative head talk that holds you back with discouraging messages about who you are and what you can do. By listening and caring deeply, I guide you in connecting with your own inner wisdom. We identify the way you’d like to live. We determine what’s blocking you and release you from the hold those blocks have over you—unleashing the positive energy that will fuel you forward. Together we develop a plan to move you closer to your heart’s desire. My books, blog, radio show and signature coaching programs help individuals and organizations harness the transformative energy of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. What’s love got to do with it? Everything! My book, Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life! (Hay House/ Balboa Press 2013) shares my story and the stories of 10 of my clients along with my signature Discovery Framework. For fun, I love reading, sewing, knitting, yin yoga, afternoon tea, opera and movies. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia with my spouse, Wilson Abney, and the cat who runs our life, Maisy Jane.
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